As usual, grantland.com has an array of smart articles analyzing the Giants (see Hua Hsu and Jonah Keri), as does sfgate.com and extrabaggs, Andrew Baggerly. And David Schoenfield is right to point the finger at Brian Sabean, while many others are pointing to Bruce Bochy. Sabean is a tough one to swallow because he’s been the scorn of so many Giants fans for so long, me included. If only he got a bat to hit behind Barry Bonds. I will never get over that. Never.
But, the current model is working and Sabean deserves the credit. I think. It’s almost moneyball-like. Just like the moneyball A’s, build a team around 3 great young pitchers and a combination of older past-their-prime players and castoffs. Except the A’s had more young offensive talent. I really don’t know how this has worked on the offensive end. And the reason it isn’t so obvious is that during the season, it often doesn’t work. The Giants play a lot of games where all their meek hitters play to their potential and they lose 3-1. Posey is the only guy who makes the Red Sox opening lineup this year.
Even more strange is that unless you became a Giants fan in October of 2010, they are absolutely known by fans for choking big moments. 2002 is the most obvious, but Bonds never made the world series in any other situation despite the fact that he was on the team, winning 4 mvps. And Jeff Kent won an mvp too because he got to hit in front of Bonds. There’s the dramatic losses to the Marlins in the 2003 playoffs, with Jose Cruz Jr. dropping a lazy fly ball in the 9th, and JT Snow getting thrown out at home to end the series. There’s the opening round playoff loss to the Mets in 2000, the epic collapse to the Braves in Bonds first season with Salomon Torres losing the final game 12-1. I believe the 100-win Giants remain the team with the most wins to not make the playoffs. And I’m not going to even go back to the ’80s and one flap down and the Kevin Mitchell years.
What I want to know is…why is Sergio Romo or Ryan Vogelsong not Salomon Torres or Felix Rodriguez? Or, why does Barry Zito come through when–going even further back–the Boston Red Sox’s 1980s version of Zito–Bob Stanley–totally remained Bob Stanley in the game 6 collapse of 1986 (he came in and threw a wild pitch before giving up the error to Buckner). Who are the other examples of Barry Zito in sports history? I’m going to think about this.
So, why are these Giants so clutch? They did it in 2010, too, even when Jonathan Sanchez brought us to the brink. The stars of that team: Cody Ross, Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria, Aubrey Huff. They did it this year with a similar set of guys. Is this about Sabean’s brilliance or just sheer luck? (And an awesome starting pitching staff).
More than Sabean, I think it might be Bochy. Not only is he let the players play loose, he’s unforgiving to guys who don’t succeed. He’s not afraid to bench guys, and fast. But, then, why don’t those guys sulk? Why is Timmy not A-Rod? Aubrey Huff, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, Barry Zito–all guys who played much smaller roles and seemingly didn’t make it an issue….I’m going with Bochy. So, time for a picture…